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(dailynews.com) Holiday travelers face a rainy journey this weekend, though the approaching storm should clear out by New Year’s Day after dumping a few inches of fresh snow at Southland ski resorts, forecasters say.

“Friday is going to be a rain event, mostly. The rain will probably reach Vegas sometime Friday afternoon or night,” said Dave Houk, chief meteorologist for AccuWeather.com. “Saturday afternoon and Saturday night through the passes: It could start as rain, but — through the Grapevine — it could change to snow.”

So, too, for 15 Freeway travelers headed to Las Vegas.

“Through Cajon Pass,” Houk suggested, “Saturday morning is the best time to head that way.”

And that’s good news for skiers, mountain vacationers and resort communities like Big Bear Lake, where Houk said 5 or 6 inches of snow will fall Saturday night.

“There’s still a foot of snow on the ground,” said Michelle Lambeth of Big Bear Dream Cabins in Big Bear Lake. “And New Years is always the biggest holiday of the year.

“By Thursday, at the latest, everything will be booked.”

After Tuesday’s brisk and windy morning, valley communities will bask in temperatures several degrees warmer today and even higher Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

Winds caused some damage throughout the region early Tuesday as they whipped through canyon and pass areas, knocking down a 60-foot eucalyptus tree in Granada Hills and sending a tractor trailer on its side on the 15 through Fontana.

Wind warnings were in effect for much of the day Tuesday.

But get those sweaters ready for Friday, when temperatures could dip by more than 10 degrees in some communities amid showers, and by several degrees more — down to the 50s — amid showers Saturday.

The rain expected Friday and Saturday is from a storm system originating in the Gulf of Alaska, according to NWS meteorologist Dave Bruno.

The storm is expected to be off the coast of Mexico today, when it will turn around as part of an unusual pattern and head for Southern California, possibly making itself felt as early as late Thursday night, Bruno said.

That system will linger on Saturday, when Southern California will be struck by a cold storm from Western Canada, Bruno said. It has a better chance than the first storm to generate heavy downpours, thunderstorms and snow at low elevations, he said.